Band of the Day

2014.03.23

Orphan Boy

Unapologetically pissed-off British rock powered by a fighting spirit
I sold my only popsong for a handshake and a line. But something in my heart, weighed so heavy on my mind.
lyrics from Popsong

Orphan Boy are pissed off. They make no apologies about this. Turned out their last album was called ‘Passion, Pain & Loyalty’ for a reason. They are unhappy and disillusioned with the way that the world has seen them.

Orphan Boy are Manchester émigrés, who are originally from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. Their names are Rob Cross, Paul Smith (or “Smithy”) Chris Day, and more recent Orphan addition Sam Carlton. They moved there because there was nothing to do and because they were bored. They made music that they declared ‘council pop’. Their live shows soon attracted a rabid following, who remain loyal to this day. Rob notes: “People go crazy at the shows: throwing themselves onstage, stage invasions… I can’t remember the last time we completely finished a set, it’s mental, the stage invasions have become part of the show, we’ve had people strip naked and jump onstage”, “We have great fans, it’s always really good natured and everyone’s just there for a good time”.

One of Orphan Boys’ main strengths is Rob’s song writing, a true lyrical genius - take the lead single from their last album Passion Pain and Loyalty; ‘Pop Song’, with its cyclical three note riff and tumbling drums, and a terrace anthem feel. The lyrics to this one, highlight Rob’s disillusionment with the music business. It paints a picture – or “a London montage/Just like they do in British films” as the words have it – of fruitless meetings with clueless record company types (“Fiddled with his scarf/Licked his lips while he told lies”) who tell them to “trim down the intro” and “lose those rock drum fills”. It’s a song that is tender, like an open wound, rather than fired up and angry and spitting blood in the faces of all comers.

Orphan Boy have locked themselves away for over a year writing and demoing songs for their next offering due out in 2014 – with some major plans afoot. Live outings have been limited but they did come out of the studio to perform a brilliant set supporting The Enemy at Manchester Academy in October 2012. Picture a thousand new devotees singing along to the criminally underrated and poignant ‘Some Frontier’, a true anthem to those that give the most, and the families they leave behind. Support bands don’t normally get asked to do encores, but the Manchester crowd demanded one. They followed this with more sold out shows supporting Babyshambles in 2013, where they picked up more new followers, winning over what is usually a notoriously partisan crowd.

There is a spirit that is propelling Orphan Boy forward. They are in a position whereby all of their contemporaries from the early days have given up the ghost, but they have fought against financial adversity and what they perceive as indifference, to emerge from the rubble. Orphan Boy are a truly special British band – a band who have figured out exactly who they are and what they’re about. Orphan Boy are back, and this time they mean business.